A Dylan Cover A Day Episode 136. Spanish Harlem Incident (such dreams help pass the days)



By Tony Attwood

The series title made sense during lockdown when we were looking for ways to fill the time.  Now it is more like a Dylan cover every two weeks, but we’re still working through the songs.  There’s no logic to which songs have appeared in this series other than the fact that I have found a few covers that I think add something to my understanding and enjoyment of the original.

And I approach each new song of course with expectations, as for example here, remembering the Byrds cover which made this lovely original composition sound just like every other Byrds song.  A real disappointment – and I’ve not included it here.

But elsewhere my expectations were more than fulfilled.

Joan Osborne plays with the melody and rhythm and comes up with a completely new feel which I really enjoy; indeed this is what I listen to covers for.  For me, this puts new life and enjoyment into a song that really hasn’t figured much in my consciousness.   A great way to start the exploration.

And I do like contrasts in these explorations, for with Particles of Change we have a delicate rendition of the song taken into completely new directions.  Inventing that accompaniment must have been fun – as indeed so must have been the performance.  I particularly like the ending around two minutes… I thought for a second it was all over, and then off we go.   I would urge you, even if you don’t find much in the opening of the track, to go on, for it mutates, but always keeps the original in mind.

Indeed I wonder sometimes if Bob ever hears renditions like this, and if so, what he thinks.  Oh, what I would give still to be performing and have be able to play alongside such musicians as these.   Trouble is the pianist we hear on this track has inventiveness way beyond anything I had.

After those first two tracks I find myself wondering what comes next.   Chris Whitley keeps closer to the original melody but the accompaniment gives an utterly different feel to the whole field.   And I wonder: why has this song so inspired artists to develop it further…

I think the answer tothat is that it is the way the verse divides into two parts – where the second group of four lines starts (for example “You have slayed me, you have made me,”) there’s a real boost to the song, which gives artists a chance to put yet more interpretation into it.

And here we go again with Don Williams – more variations in the rhythm and playing with the melody.  Wow – there really is something in this song that has inspired these performers and arrangers.   And wow again how I love this rendition – again so unexpected.  He was an artist outside of the world of music I have listened to, but oh, this is so worth hearing.

I could go on, for there are many more versions of this song out there which a bit of internet searching can reveal.   But let me end with this thought.  Bob played this song once in public, on 31 October 1964.   How amazing it would be if suddenly out of nowhere he slipped it into the Never Ending Tour – just because someone close to him read this and said, “Hey Bob, there are these guys who do a lot of celebrate your life’s work.   Play this for them…”

Won’t happen, I know, but such dreams help pass the days.

The Dylan Cover a Day series

  1. The song with numbers in the title.
  2. Ain’t Talkin
  3. All I really want to do
  4.  Angelina
  5.  Apple Suckling and Are you Ready.
  6. As I went out one morning
  7.  Ballad for a Friend
  8. Ballad in Plain D
  9. Ballad of a thin man
  10.  Frankie Lee and Judas Priest
  11. The ballad of Hollis Brown
  12. Beyond here lies nothing
  13. Blind Willie McTell
  14.  Black Crow Blues (more fun than you might recall)
  15. An unexpected cover of “Black Diamond Bay”
  16. Blowin in the wind as never before
  17. Bob Dylan’s Dream
  18. BoB Dylan’s 115th Dream revisited
  19. Boots of Spanish leather
  20. Born in Time
  21. Buckets of Rain
  22. Can you please crawl out your window
  23. Can’t wait
  24. Changing of the Guard
  25. Chimes of Freedom
  26. Country Pie
  27.  Crash on the Levee
  28. Dark Eyes
  29. Dear Landlord
  30. Desolation Row as never ever before (twice)
  31. Dignity.
  32. Dirge
  33. Don’t fall apart on me tonight.
  34. Don’t think twice
  35.  Down along the cove
  36. Drifter’s Escape
  37. Duquesne Whistle
  38. Farewell Angelina
  39. Foot of Pride and Forever Young
  40. Fourth Time Around
  41. From a Buick 6
  42. Gates of Eden
  43. Gotta Serve Somebody
  44. Hard Rain’s a-gonna Fall.
  45. Heart of Mine
  46. High Water
  47. Highway 61
  48. Hurricane
  49. I am a lonesome hobo
  50. I believe in you
  51. I contain multitudes
  52. I don’t believe you.
  53. I love you too much
  54. I pity the poor immigrant. 
  55. I shall be released
  56. I threw it all away
  57. I want you
  58. I was young when I left home
  59. I’ll remember you
  60. Idiot Wind and  More idiot wind
  61. If not for you, and a rant against prosody
  62. If you Gotta Go, please go and do something different
  63. If you see her say hello
  64. Dylan cover a day: I’ll be your baby tonight
  65. I’m not there.
  66. In the Summertime, Is your love and an amazing Isis
  67. It ain’t me babe
  68. It takes a lot to laugh
  69. It’s all over now Baby Blue
  70. It’s all right ma
  71. Just Like a Woman
  72. Knocking on Heaven’s Door
  73. Lay down your weary tune
  74. Lay Lady Lay
  75. Lenny Bruce
  76. That brand new leopard skin pill box hat
  77. Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts
  78. License to kill
  79. Like a Rolling Stone
  80. Love is just a four letter word
  81. Love Sick
  82. Maggies Farm!
  83. Make you feel my love; a performance that made me cry.
  84. Mama you’ve been on my mind
  85. Man in a long black coat.
  86. Masters of War
  87. Meet me in the morning
  88. Million Miles. Listen, and marvel.
  89. Mississippi. Listen, and marvel (again)
  90. Most likely you go your way
  91. Most of the time and a rhythmic thing
  92. Motorpsycho Nitemare
  93. Mozambique
  94. Mr Tambourine Man
  95. My back pages, with a real treat at the end
  96. New Morning
  97. New Pony. Listen where and when appropriate
  98. Nobody Cept You
  99. North Country Blues
  100. No time to think
  101. Obviously Five Believers
  102. Oh Sister
  103. On the road again
  104. One more cup of coffee
  105. (Sooner or later) one of us must know
  106. One too many mornings
  107. Only a hobo
  108. Only a pawn in their game
  109. Outlaw Blues – prepare to be amazed
  110. Oxford Town
  111. Peggy Day and Pledging my time
  112. Please Mrs Henry
  113. Political world
  114. Positively 4th Street
  115. Precious Angel
  116. Property of Jesus
  117. Queen Jane Approximately
  118. Quinn the Eskimo as it should be performed.
  119. Quit your lowdown ways
  120. Rainy Day Women as never before
  121. Restless Farewell. Exquisite arrangements, unbelievable power
  122. Ring them bells in many different ways
  123. Romance in Durango, covered and re-written
  124. Sad Eyed Lady of Lowlands, like you won’t believe
  125. Sara
  126. Senor
  127. A series of Dreams; no one gets it (except Dylan)
  128. Seven Days
  129. She Belongs to Me
  130. Shelter from the Storm
  131. Sign on the window
  132. Silvio
  133. Simple twist of fate
  134. Slow Train
  135. Someday Baby

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